DENVER – Ghosted: When someone you love doesn’t reciprocate those same feelings after you have expressed them.
It’s easy to see why Colorado Rockies fans feel ghosted by David Dahl. Whilst purple reigned into October for the first time since 2009, Dahl rationed Instagram stories of himself on the links. It’s from the tee box, not the batter’s box that Dahl became a ghost.
The once top-hitting prospect in the Rockies system and club breakout rookie of 2016 spent the entire 2017 season shelved with a multitude of upper-body injuries. From Arizona, Albuquerque and Alabama, Dahl watched as the group of talented prospects he piloted powered Colorado to the success that was planed around him.
That plan is still in place … and Dahl is still a big part of it.
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It’s the plan that was implemented at the end of Dan O’Dowd’s tenure and championed by Jeff Bridich to reinvigorate the Rockies on the back on young talent. It’s already worked without its top young hitter, so now what?
Dahl is no longer the centerpiece or even someone the club can knowingly rely upon at this point. The re-acquisition of Carlos Gonzalez says everything in the short-term. Dahl began this year in the minors for the purpose of roster space, service time shuffling and consistency in rehabilitation.
But his credentials — even with a lost season — at age 24 are impressive. Slashing .315/.359/.500 with seven home runs and 24 RBI in a half a big league season, Dahl sits in a tie atop MLB’s all-time leaderboard for a hit streak to begin a career at 17.
This spring, he took a while to get back into things after all the time out, but he eventually found his stroke at the plate.
"“The big thing is the durability that proven big league players have. That’s the thing that we talked about in spring training, was that David needed to play,” Bud Black told Rox Pile and other media members on Sunday. “That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to send him down to Triple-A, to get him at-bats and get back into the rhythm of the season without putting big league expectations on him as far as statistical performance.”"
Dahl was recalled for the series finale against the Chicago Cubs. After being gone from the Rockies lineup for so long, he was batting sixth and playing left on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.
"“It feels great. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Dahl told Rox Pile. “I’m very excited. Glad to be here with a great group of guys. Trying to help the team win. It’s been a while since I’ve been back.”"
Yet Dahl has already been on the-ever-too-common disabled list once this season while in the minor leagues.
"“I don’t know how I got it. It sucks for sure,” Dahl said of a stomach bug that sidelined him. “I lost like 10 pounds. I think the reason I went on the DL was they wanted me to get my weight back. I feel back now. I’ve gotten back into my workouts and eaten a lot. I feel back.”"
Dahl has always been terrific but Dahl has always been plagued by injury. If signing Gonzalez was just for insurance — which could be the case given the incentivized nature of his contract with built in cut dates based on service time — Dahl is the property the Rockies are protecting.
Though Dahl is currently CarGo’s issuance as a lingering leg injury has shelved the longest tenured Rockie.
"“For him, the expectation is for him to play his game,” Black entailed. “That’s usually a quality at-bat, good defense. There’s a run tool in there. There’s a power tool in there. Let’s see how it develops. Hopefully, in time, he can do what he’s very capable of doing.”"
The plan for Dahl was for last year to be the season where he took the reins as a starter. As with all great things in life, he’s going to have to earn it.
"“They decided to go with some other bats and they wanted to make sure I was fully healthy and ready to go,” Dahl said about starting 2018 in the minors. “I understand the decision-making. I felt good during spring but I can’t control where they send me.”"
Black spoke to the attitude that Dahl has carried through this rough patch.
"“There’s a confidence to David, like all good players,” the Colorado manager said. “He has that within himself, that confidence that he can play.”"
Dahl is worth a chance. It’s important that the Rockies do not torch their property for their insurance policy. He has the potential to better than both Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra. In fact, there’s a very easy argument to be made that he was the difference between the National League Wild Card game being hosted in Denver rather than Phoenix last season. The sweet-swinging left-hander can be the perfect lineup protection for Areando.
"“I feel good… My goal is to bring the whole thing here,” Dahl said."
Now it’s time for Dahl to prove he’s real, and he’s spectacular.